American Farmland Trust President Andrew McElwaine presents NRCS Chief Jason Weller (right) with a thank you card with more than 1,300 signatures. NRCS photo.
As a part of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the most rewarding part of my job is seeing and hearing about the impact our work is having on the communities we serve.
Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting with American Farmland Trust President Andrew McElwaine. He presented me with a card signed by more than 1,300 people thanking Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and NRCS for the successful launch of the newest Farm Bill conservation program – the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, or RCPP. Read more »
NRCS provides five questions non-operator landowners should ask their farmers about soil health. NRCS graphic by Jennifer VanEps.
More farmers, ranchers and others who rely on the land are taking action to improve the health of their soil. Many farmers are actually building the soil. How? By using soil health management systems that include cover crops, diverse rotations and no-till.
And when they’re building the soil they’re doing something else – they’re also building the land’s production potential over the long-term.
But how do non-operator landowners (people who rent their land to farmers) know if their tenants are doing everything they need to do to make and keep their soil healthy? Barry Fisher, an Indiana farmer and nationally recognized soil health specialist with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, recommends that they ask their farming partner these five questions. Read more »
Indiana is “The Crossroads of America” and the state’s farms, dairies, and agricultural operations are as varied as America itself. Check back next Thursday for another spotlight from the 2012 Census of Agriculture.
The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.
The 2012 Census of Agriculture results are out and, just as many predicted, Indiana agriculture continues to grow. True to our state’s motto, “The Crossroads of America,” the state of Indiana has a very diverse agriculture. The Hoosier State is a large contributor of corn, soybeans, tomatoes, ducks, milk, hogs, chickens and turkeys. And these are just a few of many commodities produced in Indiana.
According to the census results, there are 58,695 farms (ranking 7th nationally) on 14,720,396 acres of farm land in Indiana. Even though 2012 was a drought year, Indiana ranked 10th nationally in total sales by topping $11 billion, a 36 percent increase from just five years ago, which was the last time my agency conducted the Census of Agriculture. We also ranked 7th nationally in crop sales with just over $7.5 billion and 18th nationally in livestock sales with just over $3.6 billion. Read more »
USDA employees, Paul Youngstrum and Eric McTaggart, examine a cover crop radish. NRCS photo by Jody Christiansen.
Corn and soybean farmers across the nation saw an increase in yields last year thanks in part to soil health-building cover crops.
More than 1,900 farmers responded last winter to a survey about cover crops conducted by the USDA’s North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program and the Conservation Technology Information Center. The results to the survey were released in late fall.
Farmers who planted corn in a field following a cover crop had a 3.1 percent increase in yield compared to side-by-side fields with no cover crops. Likewise, soybean yields increased 4.3 percent following cover crops, according to the survey. Read more »
The Maumee River (shown here) flows into the Maumee Bay of Lake Erie at the city of Toledo, OH. USDA photo.
In the first wave of funding through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), 70 percent of the 100-plus projects focused on providing for clean and abundant water. Of these many projects, one in the Great Lakes region is poised to do an excellent job in engaging and empowering an army of partners. The Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin Phosphorous Reduction Initiative is a multi-state project that brings together more than 40 partnering organizations from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana to reduce the runoff of phosphorous into the waterways in the western basin of Lake Erie.
The lake has suffered from nutrient pollution for years, including last year’s water crisis that left 400,000 residents in the Toledo, Ohio area without water to drink, bathe or cook. Today, Michigan Senator and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Debbie Stabenow and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown visited with the many diverse organizations making this project possible. From providing clean drinking water to employing thousands of people in the tourism industry, the health of Lake Erie affects nearly every aspect of life in the region. Read more »
Last week, USDA celebrated National School Lunch Week from October 12 -18 with exciting local events across the country. It was a chance for USDA staff to meet with students and hear what they think of the newer, fresher options in the lunch room. It was also an opportunity for USDA officials to say “thank you” to the hardworking school food service professionals who make healthy school lunches possible.
Healthy meals at school are an essential part of every child’s health, development, and academic success. Students’ ability to learn in the classroom, grow up healthy and reach their fullest potential depends on the environment they learn in. And that is why Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, so that all our nation’s students can experience a healthier school environment with more nutritious options. Read more »